The second instalment of our season preview for the new Premier League campaign
Part two of the Vital Sunderland 2012/13 season preview is here!
After a hugely disappointing 2011/12 season the Reds hierarchy decided enough was enough and change was sharp with club icon Kenny Dalglish losing his job at Anfield. After a lengthy process, former Watford, Reading and Swansea City manager Brendan Rodgers was the man that John Henry and co. decided upon to replace the Scot.
Rodgers` first task is to improve on last season`s disappointing eighth-place finish. Whilst you can`t envisage the Reds storming back into the Champions League spots immediately, a Europa League spot could very much be up for grabs and Rodgers` side will need to grab hold of it with both hands.
Another big task for Rodgers is Andy Carroll. The Geordie hitman endured a devastatingly disappointing first full season with the club and despite finding form toward the end of the campaign, he looks a certainty to be moved on. The hulking forward hardly fits Rodgers` passing style of football but the £35m that Liverpool paid for him has driven his current value up to an unrealistic level which few clubs will pay. An offer of £17m from West Ham looks to be the only concrete interest so far.
Players have been arriving as well though, former Chelsea, Swansea, Parma and Roma striker Fabio Borini arrived for north of £10m and bagged on debut in the Europa League qualifying rounds. Swans midfielder Joe Allen signed for £15m as well.
In: Joe Allen (Swansea City) £15m & Fabio Borini (Roma) £10m.
Out: Fabio Aurelio (released), Dirk Kuyt (Fenerbahce) undisc, Maxi Rodriguez (Newell`s Old Boys) undisc, Alberto Aquilani (Fiorentina) undisc & Craig Bellamy (Cardiff City) undisc.
How do you improve on winning the Premier League title? Win it better of course. The Citizens scooped last season`s crown in the most dramatic of fashion, surely this season will be about securing the title more comfortably as well as putting in a better showing in the Champions League.
Surprisingly, it has been fairly quiet on the transfer front in the blue half of Manchester, with only Jack Rodwell signing from Everton – a deal which only happened 48 hours ago.
Mancini has blasted the fact that only one addition has been made and with the club`s pursuit of Robin Van Persie now dead in the water, it`s clear a striker is needed with Edin Dzeko bumbling and both Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli liable to explode at any point.
In: Jack Rodwell (Everton) undisc.
Out: Owen Hargreaves, Gai Assulin, Stuart Taylor, Ahmed Benali (all released), Greg Cunningham (Bristol City) undisc & Vladimir Weiss (Pescara) £1.32m.
Runners-up to their bitter rivals last season, the 2012-13 campaign will be all about wrestling the Premier League trophy back from the Etihad Stadium and claiming league title number 20.
Sir Alex Ferguson may have silently fumed over the duration of the summer, but he`s certainly been quick to address to deficiencies in the Red Devils squad, bringing Dortmund midfield Shinji Kagawa in along with ‘one for the future` in Crewe Alexandra`s latest wonderkid, Nick Powell.
United were poor in the Champions League as well last term and Fergie will be keen to prove that the crown his side have worn for so long is not beginning to slip. Further additions seem possible, even at this late stage. Brazilian midfielder Oscar was a target, whilst Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski has been mentioned alongside Arsenal`s Robin Van Persie.
In: Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund) undisc & Nick Powell (Crewe Alexandra) £7m.
Out: Ritchie De Laet (Leicester City) undisc, Matt James (Leicester City) undisc, Oliver Norwood (Huddersfield Town) undisc, Paul Pogba (Juventus) tribunal, Tomasz Kuszczak, Michael Owen Joe Coll, Liam Jacob (all released) & Park Ji-Sung (QPR) undisc.
An annoyingly good season for them up the road, who will be looking to prove that they can balance the added strains of the Europa League and secure a similar finish to their superb 5th place of last season. Will it all be too much or not, that`s the question.
The depth of the squad clearly wasn`t there last season to compete in more than one competition and so additions are crucial if Newcastle are to progress in Europe and kick on in the league. New additions have been hard to come by though with just three development players arriving at Sid James` Park. There`s also been something of a clear-out with a handful of senior pro`s moved on to make room for (presumably) a raft of new additions.
In: Romain Amalfitano (Reims) free, Gael Bigirmana (Coventry City) undisc & Curtis Good (Melbourne Heart) £500k.
Out: Alan smith, Peter Lovenkrands, Sammy Adjei, Phil Airey, Ryan Donaldson, Stephen Folan, Tamas Kadar, Greg McDermott, Patrick Nzuzi, Ryan McGorrigan, Daniel Taylor, Jeff Henderson, Michael Hoganson, Alex Bair, Billy Ions, Ben Sayer, Louis Story, Danny Guthrie (all released), Fraser Forster (Celtic) £2m & Leon Best (Blackburn Rovers) £3m.
Norwich City: Robbed of the services of Paul Lambert over the summer, the Canaries responded by poaching former Newcastle and Birmingham boss, Chris Hughton.
The former Republic of Ireland international has been busy in the transfer market, keen to ensure the Suffolk side to do suffer after the loss of their previous gaffer.
Skipper and modern-day icon Grant Holt looks set to move on after handing in a transfer request and this has left Hughton with big boots to fill should the scouser get his move. Former Black Cats` defender Michael Turner has arrived along with ex-Rangers man Steven Whittaker and two of the Championship`s hot properties in Jacob Butterfield & Robert Snodgrass.
In: Steven Whittaker (Rangers) free, Jacob Butterfield (Barnsley) tribunal, Robert Snodgras (Leeds Utd) undisc & Michael Turner (Sunderland) undisc.
Out: Zak Whitbread, Aaron Wilbraham, Josh Dawkin, Matt Ball, Adam Drury (all released) & Andrew Crofts (Brighton & H.A) undisc.
Part three will be along on Wednesday.